By Virginia Dean, Standard Correspondent
HARTLAND – A local junkyard permit and the town’s planned $450,000 facelift to the Three Corners intersection were among the major topics discussed at Monday night’s Hartland Select Board meeting.
Town Manager Bob Stacey and Select Board members Martha McGlinn, Chair Gordon Richardson, Matt Peeler, Joe Olmstead, and Mary T. O’Brien heard Monday evening, from local resident Edward Tobin, who was requesting a junkyard permit.
Tobin owns a licensed and bonded freight shipping and trucking company based in Hartland. He collects and sorts metal scrap on his 12-acre patch and hauls it to Claremont and other destinations to sell to consolidators and processors.
Stacey said the town has to agree about the location of the salvage yard. The state oversees it. The permit is good for five years.
“The state can’t find any fault with the yard,” he said. “It’s what I do. There’re good times and bad times and everything in between.”
The board voted unanimously to approve the certificate for the location of the salvage yard. There is a $25 town fee, Stacey said.
Local resident Chet Pasho arrived late to the meeting to express his concern about the Town Plan that is slated to be adopted by the Select Board later this year.
“ Shall and must are words that are used to mean mandatory,” said Pasho. “Work on individual properties or land is required to get a permit. It’s expansion of existing land development. It’s pretty encompassing. I talked to the Planning Commission about this at length. They couldn’t come to a consensus. I see this as a potential land mine for the Select Board down the road. It’s in the implementation section. I would encourage the Board to be careful. This all comes down to steep slopes and impervious surfaces which is about half the town of Hartland.”
Pasho was referring to the new state regulation of General Muncipal Storm Water permit that will come into effect during the next year.
Pasho also expressed his strong disagreement to board members with the town’s plan to modify the intersection at Hartland Three Corners. The road would be reconfigured into four corners. Work is expected to begin this summer on a $450,000 facelift that will create a four-way intersection where Route 5, Route 12 and Quechee Road meet, according to Stacey. The roads will be tightened and realigned to make way for more on-street parking, green spaces and pedestrian-friendly crosswalks.
“I’m in total disagreement about this plan and will do everything I can to stop it,” said Pasho.
Board member O’Brien responded by asking Pasho why he or the others he claimed who were also in disagreement did not come forward earlier when the plan was in its inception.
Town officials first began discussing the intersection over 40 years ago. It wasn’t until 2014 that voters approved the Select Board’s recommendation to reconfigure the road, however, by borrowing from the town’s capital reserve fund over five years, according to town reports.
“Thank you for coming in,” said Richardson to Pasho. “The Board is in favor of the project. But we don’t have a closed mind about anything, including the intersection.”
In other business, board members approved the re-appointment of Town Officers as presented without changes.
O’Brien related that members of the Town Planning Commission are mulling over decreasing its present number of nine.
“They’ll have to discuss this among themselves,” said Stacey. “They’re having a tough time getting a quorum.”
Board members reviewed line items in the present town financial report. O’Brien related that, 75 percent through the year, some line items are higher than they should be. She noted that pay for board members is disseminated twice a year in December and June. Workman’s compensation appears to be double than expected although Stacey will investigate. Office supplies seem to have increased as well as legal/profession fees and computer services by a new supplier. Miscellaneous expenses of $3,000 are due to house expenses, Stacey related. Among the listers, all seems to be over budget, according to O’Brien.
“All this overrun,” said O’Brien. “Where is this coming from? We budget these items and people don’t pay attention, I suppose.”
“I always look at the bottom line and, as such, we’re always within the budget,” Stacey said.
“So this is a misfortunate guestimate?” said O’Brien.
“It can be a very cloudy crystal ball,” said Stacey who said that once the town reappraisal comes in, it might help to offset the budget.
Richardson pointed out that there is $4,600 budgeted for library maintenance including hours. There has been outside work needed to be done including window sills and doors.
“It would be nice to have some repair work done,” said Assistant Town Clerk Laura Bergstresser.
Board members discussed the after school that remains busy with two full-time employees and a scholarship program.
On the line item of the town garage, Richardson noted $4,000 worth of repairs. Stacey said that the diesel tank got water in it and needed to be pumped out.
“Getting rid of that tainted fuel was expensive,” said Stacey.
Richardson asked, looking forward, if office equipment would be replaced. Stacey related that “we’re in pretty good shape” so that would not be necessary.
Stacey recommended that, in the future, board members review the budget a week prior to the board meeting, circle their concerns, and then send them back to Stacey who will make his review and investigate.
Richardson raised the issue of the Town Manager search. There have been 30 responses. The size and membership of the committee is still in question. But 10 seems to be enough, Richardson noted. There is also an issue of people on the committee who will be directed by the Manager.
“I didn’t get a lot of negative thoughts on it, although personally I don’t think it’s a great idea,” said Richardson. “My suggestion is that we have the five of us and the Fire Chief and three others.”
Board members gave their nod to Richardson’s suggestion, including retiring Town Manager Stacey.
Richardson said he would like the Search Committee formed as soon as possible because its first meeting, warned as a Select Board meeting, is slated for Tuesday, April 11,at 5:30 p.m. The first round of interviews by phone or Skype begins April 17, he noted.
“We need to remember that the candidates are looking at us as well as us looking at them,” said Richardson.
The next regular Select Board meeting is scheduled for April 17 at 5:30 p.m.
This article first appeared in the April 6, 2017 edition of the Vermont Standard newspaper.